‘Powerful indeed is the empire of habit.’ ~Publilius Syrus
By Leo Babauta
It’s amazing how big a difference a little thing can make. Starting your day mindfully with some tea, for example, can change your entire day. Clearing your desk will make your work day amazing. A smile from a loved one can mean the world.
And when these little things are repeated daily, and formed into habits, their benefits increase not just by multiples but by exponents.
The little habits can be life-changing.
Everyone’s world-changing little habits will be different, but I’ll share a few of mine, and then some tips for forming them.
My Little Habits
I have lots of little habits, but these are a handful of my favorites:
- Get-in-the-door ritual. Whenever I get home, the first thing I do is put my stuff away. I have a designated spot for my keys, cash/cards (I don’t use a wallet), phone, and coins. Everything else either gets tossed or put wherever it belongs. If we brought something home like groceries or library books, those get put away, right away. This is an important little ritual because even people who have simplified their homes notice that possessions and junk can build up over time — and that starts with what you bring in. It’s no use simplifying and organizing if it just gets cluttered and disorganized every time you come home.
- Put clothes away. It’s so simple, but when I take clothes off, they either go in the hamper or I fold them & put them in my drawer or hang them in the closet. Others drape them over chairs or throw them on the floor or bed, and sorting through them later becomes a major chore. By doing it right away, things stay organized and I don’t have to worry about cleaning up later.
- Wash my bowl. When I finish eating, I wash my dishes by hand, mindfully. No mess to clean up later. Read more.
- Prepare meals in advance. This is important when I’m trying to stick to an eating plan. Cooking your own meals is the healthiest (and most frugal) choice, but if you have to cook three to six times a day, it’ll get too cumbersome and you’re likely to give up. So I prepare my food in bulk (for 3-6 days in advance), and eat the same meals all week. It’s no harder than cooking smaller meals. I only make food that I adore, so I don’t get bored. It’s super easy to stay on a meal plan this way.
- Just step out the door. My motto for exercise. Most people have a hard time with motivation to do workouts, but not me. First of all, I only do workouts I love, so I actually look forward to them. But second, I never think about how I don’t feel like doing a workout — because I tell myself that all I have to do is get on my shoes and get out the door. The rest flows naturally.
- Clear distractions. When I’m ready to do a task, I clear all distractions. Small action, huge difference.
- Take a walk & reflect. Taking a short walk is such a simple thing to do — you can do it during your lunch break, or take a break when you’ve been working for a couple hours straight. It only needs to be 10-20 minutes. But oh boy, what a world of difference. Not only does the walk relieve stress and clear your head, it gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve been doing, and reflection is one of the most important tools for changing your life.
- Breathe. When I get stressed, I simply breathe.
How to Form Them
I’ve written about habits numerous times before, but here’s an easy guide to forming a little habit:
- Do one habit at a time.
- Make it easy to do.
- Do it consciously, very consciously at first.
- Don’t allow any exceptions.
- Post your progress publicly.
- Keep doing it, every single day.
- Enjoy the habit.
Forming a habit can be easy, if you enjoy it, take it slowly, and do it mindfully.